Ernest K. Bramblett, 52, a mild-mannered, fourth-term Republican Congressman from the coastal strip of central California, jumped from a political frying pan into a fire.

Bramblett put his wife, Lois, On the Government payroll as a $4,700-a-year secretary because, he explained. "You don't know who can be entrusted with confidential data." Another secretary might blabber to Communists, he feared. Critics in California charged nepotism. They doubted that Bramblett, as a member of the House Agriculture Committee, handled state secrets. Worried about this political sniping, Bramblett discussed his problem with House Republican Clerk Irving Swanson one day in 1949.

Swanson agreed to...

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